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March 22 weekend update: Western Canada and COVID-19

There are more than 1,375 cases across Canada as of Sunday. Without B.C.’s Sunday update, Alberta and B.C. still account for more than half of all Canadian cases.

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Without a Sunday update from B.C., western Canada numbers are at 755.

B.C. reported 76 new cases on Saturday and 77 new cases Friday.

Alberta

31 new cases were announced Saturday and 33 additional cases were identified by Sunday bringing the province’s total to 259.

18 people are currently hospitalized with the virus and seven are in intensive care units. The province has had one death.

The province would also like people to be vigilant and take extra care with their personal information.

“Cyber security incidents involving malware and fraudulent activities, including identity theft, are being reported across Alberta in the wake of COVID-19,” said a provincial press release.

“Anyone who receives a call asking for credit card information should hang up immediately and call the non-emergency line for local law enforcement. Albertans are encouraged to continue to exercise caution when clicking on links or providing personal information to people and organizations that request that information, unsolicited.”

A new contact centre will be opening up March 23. The Alberta Connects Contact Centre will be available for non-medical assistance seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

An emergency management line is also being set up to help people who would like to donate items that are not currently on the list of requisite items. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency Unsolicited Offers Program can be accessed here.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

B.C. announced 76 new cases on Saturday but did not provide an update by 5:00 pm Sunday (MT).

Distillers in the province will be temporarily refocusing their production on hand sanitizer.

New rules are allowing liquor delivery, with the purchase of a meal, from area restaurants in Victoria.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that the time for asking nicely is nearing an end. Stewart said he will be asking council to allow an increase in penalties for those who flaunt public health recommendations.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

The province announced two new cases on Saturday and one new case Sunday.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said almost all of the cases currently in the province were related to travel. One case was still being investigated.

“Now is not the time for business as usual. Now is the time to implement these social distancing strategies. Now is the time that we can work together to limit the impact of this virus in Manitoba,” Roussin said.

Residents are encouraged to use the online screening tool which should be available without delay or call Health Links where the average wait time was around 47 minutes.

Emergent situations should still call 911.

Roussin advised Manitobans to stay home if they can, practice social distancing and reschedule travel outside of the province.

One case in the province was related to travel to B.C..

Health officials also reminded residents that a negative test did not mean they should return to the community and that they should continue to self-isolate for a full 14-day period as that has been determined to be the incubation for the virus.

Self-isolation can also help curb asymptomatic spread, Roussin said.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

On Saturday the province announced 18 new cases and an additional eight cases on Sunday bringing the province’s total to 52.

21 cases are in Saskatoon, 19 in Regina, five in southern Saskatchewan (excluding Regina) and three in northern Saskatchewan.

Health officials are asking residents to practice social distancing and monitor their own health for signs of illness. The province also asks that people adhere to other public safety measures the province and municipalities have undertaken to ensure the safety of all residents.

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • British Columbia: 424 confirmed cases, including 5 recovered and 10 deaths*
  • Ontario: 377 cases, including 5 recovered and 3 deaths
  • Alberta: 259 confirmed cases including one death
  • Quebec: 202 confirmed cases, including one recovered and 5 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 52 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 11 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 21 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 2 cases
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 6 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 case

*British Columbia’s numbers are current as of Saturday, March 21.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Support for truckers needed to get supplies to Canadian destinations

There are currently 9,663 cases of COVID-19 in Canada with 2,204 cases from B.C. to Manitoba.

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Truck drivers are still working to ensure our store shelves are filled and fresh produce is available – and they need supports too.

News reports of truck drivers being denied access to washrooms and food at drive-thrus have been noted around the country.

Alberta Transportation has reopened a number of highway rest stops along Highway 2 but asked that drivers carry their own toilet paper and hand sanitizer in case the rest stop is out.

The province closed a number of rest stop washrooms as “cost saving measures’ in October but have since reopened some along common transport routes to accommodate drivers who must be on the roads to deliver goods.

“Keeping these washrooms open is a priority as the trucking industry and the movement of goods is crucially important,” Alberta Transportation said.

The Alberta Motor Transportation Association has provided a new rest stop database on their website for drivers who are still making the trips along Alberta highways and some restaurants such as McDonald’s are offering curbside delivery to drivers who cannot go through a drive-thru.

Jeff, a driver who runs from Calgary to Medicine Hat, AB, says the traffic has dropped and is mostly trucks now.

“I feel for the drivers who are far from home. I see many at the rest stops overnight and I wonder if they have food or a restroom break or a shower,” he said.

Advocates have been trying to raise awareness of the needs of drivers who may be on the road for long periods and leadership is taking a stand.

“Trucking is an essential service — that’s not the opinion of the Manitoba Trucking Association, that’s the opinion of the Prime Minister of Canada,” Prime Minister Trudeau said on March 18.

Provinces across the country have asked businesses to do what they can to accommodate drivers who are bringing necessary goods to towns and cities across the country.

Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #thankatrucker with their stories and thanks to those who are working to ensure we have everything we need here at home.

Alberta

Alberta announced 117 new cases Wednesday, bringing the province’s total to 871.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Albertas Chief Medical Officer of Health, also reported two additional deaths in the province.

There are 41 cases of COVID-19 at long-term or continuing care centres in the province.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

B.C. reported 53 new cases bringing its total to 1,066.

There are 22 care homes in the province with positive cases, up from 19 Tuesday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.s health official, announced one new death, for a total of 25 COVID-19 related deaths in the province to date.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

The province announced 24 new cases on Wednesday bringing the province’s total to 127.

Four individuals have been hospitalized and three of those are in intensive care.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says public health officials have begun to see community transmission in Winnipeg.

“Public health investigations have not been able to confirm several cases to travel or other confirmed cases. We knew to expect this as more cases are introduced in a jurisdiction, community transmission is going to be inevitable.”

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan identified nine new cases on Wednesday bringing the province’s total to 193.

The province also recognized the COVID-related death of a third resident.

Eight cases in the province cannot be traced either to travel or known cases.

At this time, Dr, Saqib Shahab, Chief Medical Health Officer for the province, said aside from the four individuals in hospital, all other cases are recovering at home.

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 4,611 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 33 deaths
  • Ontario: 2,392 cases including 501 recovered and 37 deaths
  • British Columbia: 1,013 confirmed cases including 507 recovered and 24 deaths
  • Alberta: 871 confirmed cases including 120 recovered and 11 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 193 confirmed cases including 30 recovered and 3 deaths
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 175 confirmed cases and 1 death
  • Nova Scotia: 173 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 127 confirmed cases including 4 recovered and 1 death
  • New Brunswick: 81 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 21 confirmed cases, and 3 recovered
  • Yukon: 5 confirmed cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case
  • Nunavut: 0 cases

There are currently 9,663 cases of COVID-19 in Canada with 2,204 cases from B.C. to Manitoba.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Key climate change talks cancelled by coronavirus

“We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.”

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A gathering of world experts on climate change set for Glasgow later this year has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

COP26 was to have been the most important climate change meeting since Paris in 2015 where world leaders laid out their country’s goals in cutting carbon emissions.

The meeting with 26,000 attendees was to have been held in November but has been put back to 2021.

“In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” said a statement issued Wednesday night by the British government.

“We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.”

COP26 President-Designate and British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said: “The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19. That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26.

“We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.”

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said:” Covid-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.

“Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby76794

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U.S. Intelligence says China’s COVID numbers are “fake”

As the rate of infection continues to rise in other countries, it’s looking more like China’s reports are the ones that don’t add up.

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With more than twice as many cases being reported in the U.S., speculation about China’s reporting was already mainstream; now two U.S. officials say that a recently submitted “report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.”

The report was submitted to the White House last week the sources told Bloomberg.

China has claimed only 82,000 cases with 3,300 deaths – since the first cases appeared in late 2019 – while the U.S. has reported over 190,000 cases and 4,133 deaths since the first case was identified on March 5, 2020.

Knowing what we do now, that the virus spreads rapidly once it appears – and that China did not declare an emergency situation until mid-January – its claims are not in line with what other countries are experiencing.

Both Spain and Italy have healthcare systems in crisis. Spain has over 100,000 cases and has reported more than 9,000 deaths while Italy has just over 105,000 cases and has reported 12,000 deaths.

On Tuesday, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its COVID response, Dr. Deborah Birx, said the data from China influenced responses to a potential outbreak.

“I think the medical community … interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” she said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“I think when you look at the China data originally, and you said ‘there’s 80 million people, or 20 million people in Wuhan and 80 million people in Hubei (province)’, and they come up with the number of 50,000 (cases), you start thinking this is more like SARS than.. a global pandemic.”

Birx said that the data from Italy and Spain is likely a better indicator of what should be expected.

Canada and the U.S. had access to better data from Spain and Italy by the time the virus showed up in their own countries, but the inconsistency in reporting from China at first made Italy seem like an outlier. As the rate of infection continues to rise in other countries, it’s looking more like China’s reports are the ones that don’t add up.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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